Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tricho - what?

She sat perched, curled around herself talking casually with friends.  To them, the conversation went on and on, no mind to her and what her hands were subconsciously doing.  It was like an itch to her, it was an itch to all of us with it, but most people never see it or notice it – until we have a gaping hole.

But I saw.  I watched her hands flitter around her hair with ease, twirling hair as normal girls would, until her fingertips rested with one strand caught between them.  She’d wrestle the strand away with such fluidity that no one ever questioned it – she was just playing with her hair, no harm there, that’s what girls do when they are trying to be cute.  Finally, her fingers had the single strand by its lonesome, soon to be viciously ripped from the follicle that nested it.  But before she detached it, she looked at it, she always had to look at it, to see it attached to her, feel the slight tug against her scalp.  And then with a small twist of skilled hands, it tore from it’s safe place and fluttered down, dead, to the dark wooden floor below.  All the while, the conversation continued, in their eyes, nothing unusual had happened.

My eyes rested on her for a moment before saying, “Trichotillomania?”  She jolted upright, the entire conversation stopped.

“What?!”  Someone else said, never having heard the term before.  She breathed heavily, nostrils flared as if I had just thrown her out in front of a bus.  If there’s one thing that people like us hate, it’s being called out on our problem.

I shook my head, “Don’t worry, I have it to.”  Her eyes softened – she wasn’t amongst some crazy psychology major or a girl that wanted to point out her flaws, she was with a sympathizer, a woman that understood exactly what she was going through – the itch.  Everyone stared at us, still feeling out of place because, really, what the hell is trichotillomania?  You don’t usually know about it unless your best friend has it, or worse, you have it.

“I’ve been trying to get better at it.”

I laughed, “I wouldn’t worry if I were you – I mean, I almost had no eyelashes when I was in college.  Test taking was the worst for me, I’d lose like five of them within a few minutes.”  She smiled too, she couldn’t help it – there wasn’t anything about this disorder that was entirely fixable.  You just have to think about it more.  But here’s the thing, when you think abut trichotillomania, you want to pull.  You feel the base of your eyelashes itching, and you say to yourself, “I won’t pull, I’m just itching.”  And the light scratching movement of your fingernails becomes a twisting motion on the eyelashes themselves, and you tell yourself that you are just itching, not pulling.  And you twist until you have at least one eyelash on your fingertip, one dark strand sitting there.

This is how I know I can call bullshit whenever anyone says to me, “You know when you lose eyelashes, they never grow back.”

I'm going on a minor vacation this weekend.  I still plan on writing every day and backlogging the entries.  I'll be in the woods - and hopefully will get inspired for some creepy, horror tales... or maybe some more sci-fi, or zombies, or maybe just your regular old fictionalized dramatic conversation.

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